Just when baseball was bringing a bit of normalcy back into our lives, COVID-19 strikes again. This time it has impacted the Miami Marlins.
Following their season-opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies, rising coronavirus cases within the team have grounded the Fish in the City of Brotherly Love. The virus first reared its ugly head before the series finale. That’s when pitcher Jose Urena was scratched from his start Sunday. Urena was one of three Marlins to hastily find themselves off the lineup for Sunday’s game. That gave room for Robert Dugger to take the mound. Dugger was originally a depth piece used for long relief. However, he was part of the starting rotation in the final month of the 2019 campaign.
That’s without mentioning the loss of Jorge Alfaro, the planned starting catcher for the Marlins. Alfaro was ousted from the lineup before the season even began due to COVID-19.
Miami Marlins Season in Limbo Following COVID-19 Concerns
The New Situation at Hand
Now with the Marlins stuck in Philadelphia, their home opener scheduled against the Baltimore Orioles has been canceled. Overall, it appears the series as a whole is in jeopardy, and Baltimore is already headed north. There are several individuals, such as Craig Mish, who have voiced serious doubts about the health of the 2020 campaign. That’s not just for the Marlins, but baseball in general.
All of this is an unfortunate distraction for Miami. The team had a strong start in their first series of the season, winning two of three games. Now, as Jeff Passan reported, eleven Marlins players (including Garrett Cooper and Harold Ramirez) are temporarily sidelined from COVID-19. Adding on to that, two coaches and one non-player personnel have tested positive.
Now, as Mish mentioned, additional rounds of testing have been conducted for the Marlins. That has seemingly presented skipper Don Mattingly along with Derek Jeter and company with an unappealing situation. They now have to accommodate for the eleven players sidelined by COVID-19, plus Alfaro and Matt Joyce who started the year on the IL due to injury. As Jon Heyman mentioned, Miami is scrambling to find “MLB quality players.”
Adding more disturbing news into the mix, the Marlins are trying to avoid dipping into their prospect pool, which currently resides in the team’s alternative training site in Jupiter, Florida. That is simply due to a similar situation as nine players were part of the group that went to Atlanta for exhibition games last week. There is concern about even more potential spread of the virus there as both Jordan McPherson and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported.
A Bad Distraction
All of this comes at a bad time because of how strong the Marlins played through the first three games. It may be a small sample size, but the Marlins outscored the Phillies 17-15 and belted five home runs — proving that their bats are lively. Offseason acquisition Jesus Aguilar hit two home runs and drove in three in the series, and Corey Dickerson issued a .923 OPS with a double and a solo home run.
Then there are the already established Marlin veterans such as Brian Anderson and Miguel Rojas. Anderson had a strong opening series, which was highlighted by a three-run blast in the series finale. However, there is little doubt of who the hottest Marlin was through the first three games. That would be 31-year-old veteran Miguel Rojas. The Venezuelan-born star nearly hit for the cycle in Sunday’s series finale while batting over .700 with seven hits in the series.
Overall, the status of the Marlins season still has question marks beside it. They are not the first team to be hit with COVID-19 but they are the first to be hit with this magnitude. The thought is that the results from the tests and a decision about moving forward are set to come later tonight or early tomorrow morning.
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